With infighting in state units showing no signs of abating, Rahul Gandhi is once again in the line of attack for not taking the initiative in tackling this rebellion and showing the way forward in the poll-bound states.
Rediff.com contributor Anita Katyal reports
A day after the Congress made it clear that it will not succumb to the pressure tactics of rebels, it softened its stand on Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s chief detractor Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Sarma had submitted his resignation from the Gogoi government on Monday to build pressure on the Congress leadership to replace the chief minister.
Claiming the support of 50 legislators, he also warned that more resignations would follow in the coming days.
At the same time, Sarma clarified that he had quit the state Cabinet but not the party, thus keeping the door ajar for a compromise.
The party did not take kindly to Sarma’s threats, stating categorically on Monday that it will not be forced into taking a decision at gunpoint.
In contrast, the Congress struck a far more conciliatory note on Tuesday.
While maintaining that an individual is not above the party, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala described Sarma as a “prominent, respected and loyal” leader whose long years of service have been appreciated by both party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The party’s soft stand comes in the backdrop of reports that Sarma does enjoy the support of a sizeable number of legislators who have also conveyed to the Congress leadership that they want him to replace Gogoi.
A senior Congress leader had told rediff.com on Monday that the situation in Assam was more serious as compared to Maharashtra which is also wracked by dissension in view of Sarna’s popularity, who is said to be the real political brain in Assam Congress.
Although disillusionment with Gogoi has been simmering for over a year, it reached a flashpoint after the Congress fared poorly in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
There is a growing view in the Congress that unlike Haryana and Maharashtra, a leadership change in Assam can help the party to recover lost ground in Assam as assembly elections are still two years away.
Congress insiders have told rediff.com that while Sonia was in favour of removing Gogoi, Rahul is not keen on a change. He believes the party should not to yield to pressure.
With infighting in state units showing no signs of abating, Rahul is once again in the line of attack for not taking the initiative in tackling this rebellion and showing the way forward in the poll-bound states.
While more and more Congress leaders have been openly questioning Rahul’s political acumen after the party’s shock defeat in the Lok Sabha, they are equally concerned that he has shown no interest in leading the party.
“People want to see a person leading from the front… somebody who fights, takes positions and speaks up on key issues. Silence is not the answer,” a senior Congress office bearer told rediff.com, adding that Rahul has, so far, shown no inclination to rebuild and reinvent the party following its recent drubbing.
Still to recover from its shock defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is currently battling dissension across states.
While Maharashtra and Assam are witnessing open rebellion, similar reports are coming in from Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir where a former MP Lal Singh has resigned and West Bengal where several MLAs have joined the Trinamool Congress.